Hello, I’m sitting on a train on my way to Stockholm to attend the Women in tech 2018 conference. Exciting about that and everything that will happen today. Will give you a report later about what took place. They will also be live streaming the event here:
One of the most stupid things I did when going to the Summit was forgetting my power bank/solar panel charger and/or my dash charger for my Oneplus 5… Major fail!
But still, managed to keep my battery alive all days. So what did the second day bring about?
Well, one thing that was very interesting was listening to Microsoft talk about Cyber Security. Especially when talking about the WannaCry malware attack that took place on May 12 this year. A date that will go to history as the scale of the attack is unprecedented. According to the news just the last few days North Korea was behind it.
Lesson learnt, don’t open it.
THURSDAY – third day & last day
The last day was FULLSTK developer conference. Mozilla got me excited about their new browser, Jon Skeet absolutely got on my list of people to admire with his rant about equality in tech and his “Code like a girl”-t-shirt!
Jon Skeet, from Google and Stack Overflow genious.
Al Gore finishing off the Summit
Also listened to Susie Wee from Cisco talking about network APIs, was drawn to a corner were Wyclef Jean was giving a production master class. And finishing off was Al Gore, passionately talking about the earths future and techs role in this.
Full-packed days and many interesting meetings. My LinkedIn is alive again. But there was so much more than what I have described here, or tried to. My flight was early the next day and I was spending the last night by myself. I went to a hotel near the airport.
One funny thing that happened on the flight back to London was that when we boarded the plane I went to the toilet. I asked the female stewardess if she knew if there was any available seats nearer the toilets as I had a UTI (although in all honesty I didn’t think I actually had a UTI, but didn’t want to explain it in detail so just said UTI. Turned out I had one and it made me massively sick the next day) ANYWAY… She told me to sit down and she’ll let me know when we’re airborne. But before we took off a male steward came to me and said;
“I believe we have better seat to accommodate your… situation”
embarrassed but relieved I was now sat very close to the toilets. Thank you EasyJet!
Thank you Web Summit for an awesome conference and for taking action to engaging and lifting women in particular in this business. Thank you Women in Tech for the ticket! And grateful my job encourages these type of things!
Argh, I started writing about my Web Summit 2017 experience here, but I just got to the Opening Night, I didn’t even make it to the actual conference. By now I’m sure I will have forgotten most of it, highly annoying! I wanted to try to save some of that inspiration and motivation I gained during the conference.
But I’ll try to report on the first day of the conference (and the rest cause it would disturb me too much to leave it unfinished). Once I get started I might remember more and more, who knows.
So… Anna and I lived very conveniently, when I think back. It wasn’t our original booking because that turned out to be a disaster. But Anna found a sweet, modest spot that was on the same tube as the Summit. But it was before the big crossing station, which meant we could get on the tube get a seat and the next station all the rest squeezed in. Perfect! It was close too.
The conference area was huge, there’s 4 big tents with exhibition areas and stages for the different talks. And then there’s the big arena with the big names and topics. Web Summit is actually 25 different conferences in one. Some of them cover several days and some just one. “My” day was thursday – the Fullstack day. But I had plenty on my custom-made schedule for all the days. More talks than I could fit in and physically run between.
One of the first things we did was head to the Centre stage to listen to Jared Cohen from Google Jigsaw, which is a collection of project with one objective – make the internet safer. The project covers areas like safe conversation, cyber attacks, extremism and so on. For example they’re using Machine learning to curate online conversation, he talked a lot about “online toxicity” and how to combat it.
When he talked about violent extremism recruiting online he shared the insight that what matters most to young viewers is how well the video answers their questions and not the quality of the video itself, which is very interesting. Depending on your message it could be a good or a bad thing to be able to effectively influence young people with a small budget, but well thought through message.
An ongoing theme throughout the 3 days, was the responsibility of the tech community, brought down to every developer individually, to take responsibility of what they are taking part in building, no matter how small.
I also listened to the topic of “When machines outsmart us…” with Max Tegmark author of “Life 3.0: Being human in the age of artificial intelligence”. This was one of the things I made a note of;
One of the things I had been looking forward to the most (and I was not alone in this) was seeing Sofia the Robot and Einstein the Robot from Hanson Robotics. Ben Goertzel, Chief Scientist of Hanson Robotics, was the curator for a debate set to take place between the 2 robots. Sofia said she will take our jobs, but that’s OK. (Ben explaining because we can have more time to do more creative things. One must wonder if he’s the one putting that idea in her head in the first place – literally)
The surprise of the day was ending up by the Swedish hotspot and meeting people there. We were told about a conversation about the topic of women in tech and we decided to come back for that (although I was told it was about FemTech – which is something totally different to me).
The panel was Ishtar Touailat from Tieto (and IT Woman of the year in Sweden 2016), Ditte Hammarström from Snowfire and Sofie Lindblom from ideation360 and moderated by Jonas Almeling from Business Sweden. Very interesting discussion, but as I remember Ishtar commenting – it would be nice to not have to discuss the issue itself year after year, and just involve women in the actual tech discussions going on. It’s troubling it still has to be discussed as well – that it’s still needed, but it is I guess and it was on the main stage several times as well.
After the conference finished we headed over to the Sunset Summit that was in direct connection with the conference area. We got a taste of Portuguese culture.
After this we headed to a mingle hosted by the Swedish embassy, which was a very interesting network opportunity. We had a brief stroll along the Night summit (read chasing after the shortest cue to the bar). Before being dragged away from one queue by our company I met a tech podcaster from the UK (I love listening to podcasts in particular tech podcasts when working out), in the next place I met a young, female engineer student (who also works out to podcasts!) and had an interesting conversation about Bryan Johnsson (see my previous post).
This was the first conference day of the Summit. I met so many people in queues, sitting down for food, well, everywhere really. I love that. Love hearing entrepreneurs as well and their ideas and passion.
So I wanted to share some thoughts from the Web Summit with you. It was my first time attending and I had so much fun, gained knowledge and tied connections, but I also got very inspired and motivated.
I had a Woman in Tech ticket, like many other women there. Which might have been a contributing factor to 42% of the attendants being women. And I really felt that! The first day I was speaking to a woman who said it felt like 50/50 and I said “I know right?! Last night at the opening ceremony, we were suppose to stand up and greet 3 people sitting close to us and for me it was 2 women and 1 man (excluding the woman I was there with)”.
So many women wanting to be there shows there’s a huge interest. I believe it helps change the perspective from other people to a certain degree. When people see the Web Summit badges out on the street it’s not just a stereotypically looking tech man. And that we’re not getting the feeling it’s “#men #menslife #menslifestyle #guys” that I saw hashtagged on the websummitlisbon Instagram account…
Surely we can’t attend a tech conference talking about how AI-robots will take humans jobs and still discuss if women belong in the tech industry… But there are several diversity issues in tech and some were discussed on stage. I also unfortunately heard stories of women not being taken seriously, inappropriate speech when being out during the night summit and 2 women told some of us that they had been denied entry to the developer lounge by someone by the entrance pointing out it’s just for developers. These women have been developers for over 15 years.
Now that I’m writing this I realise that i walked pass that lounge several times, it said “All developers welcome” but I never even tried to go in. Not a conscious decision, but still. Whether you have 15 or 5 or 1 years experience you shouldn’t feel like you don’t belong. And you certainly shouldn’t be judged by your appearance if you belong somewhere or not.
I’m sure I’ll cover this topic again as I go through what I got up to at the Web Summit. I was staying with Anna, a C# developer at H&M, we both had tickets to the opening night, so we started heading that way around 5 or so, because the doors closed at 6. Sharp. If you were late, you weren’t let in.
The opening night had a few speakers lined up, first up was the CEO and founder of Web Summit Paddy Cosgrave. Then the special guest, presented by Feedzai, was a filmed talk by Sir Stephen Hawking, talking about the dangers with AI. (Found this on YouTube if anyone wants to have a look.) He says AI can be the best or the worst that has ever happened to humanity. It can either destroy us or help us with our challenges.
Then we got to listen to Bryan Johnson from Kernel talking about advances in neuroscience that is making the brain more accessible and closer to be understood. Rebooting the brain his speech was called. He’s working on tools to change and enhance the brain. We already have knowledge to change the brain with medication and therapy and our own routines and habits of course. But what if there was a whole range of technological tools of doing this.
When talking to an engineer student from Dublin the evening after, we discussed Bryan Johnson and his statements. There wasn’t any details of what they were actually doing or how, just a bunch of buzzwords as the engineer student said. Like “hacking the brain”, “walk a mile in someone elses shoes”. The last which the engineer student pointed out has partly already been done, referring to this experiment. But being able to even more so hack the empathy system, share memories etc. And not to mention about how much more efficient therapy can be in the future, thinking of PTSD for example. It’s definitely worth following and I added Bryan Johnson to my Twitter right now. A little West World over the whole thing but still…
After this we got to hear Margrethe Vestager from the European commission being interviewed by Kara Swisher, they discussed fair play in the tech industry and it was interesting to hear about how they work to keep it as fair as it can be. After this it was government officials talking, welcoming and then the official opening.
It was a fun night and teaser for what was to come. Me and Anna headed back to the hotel for an early night so we could get to the conference on time the next day.